Hi everyone! Well, I'm a new member, but I've been caring for bettas for a couple years or so. Anyways, now that I'm old enough to actually buy my own supplies for my fish, I figured I'd ask a couple questions. I know this is a long post, but I'd really appreciate any help!
So a little background info - I've been keeping my poor betta in a 0.5 gallon bowl up until now (for about a year), since it was all my parents were willing to get me. I did frequent water changes though, and he's always been very active and healthy. I'd been feeding him flake food along with occasional bloodworms, and keeping a small plant in the aquarium to provide more oxygen/a hiding spot.
Just recently, my fish had a bloated belly and was unable to swim properly. I did a bunch of research and tentatively concluded it was just a bout of constipation, although I wasn't sure. I tried the whole "quarter of a pea to clean out the stomach" thing, and it helped with the bloated belly, but not with the weird swimming!
Now he's constantly sinking to the bottom of the tank and listing to one side a lot. There aren't any other telltale signs of disease, so I have no idea what's wrong.
One website suggested some kind of depression, where the fish is just... bored. So I used up my Christmas money and bought him a new tank, a 3.5 gallon one. It's much bigger than the 0.5 gallon and way too heavy for me to carry. I know it's still too small for a betta, but it's really all I can afford, and if it was any bigger I wouldn't be able to care for it. I just set this tank up today. I have two plants in here and a couple of rocks from the old (established) aquarium. It's filtered but there's no heater and I don't think I can get my hands on one. There's an ornamental bridge to provide an additional hiding spot. I'd say it's a lot more interesting than my fish's old aquarium! I didn't put him in there yet, I know a little about letting the tank cycle although it's kind of complicated to me still.
So my questions are:
-how long will the nitrogen cycle last in this new tank? I know you can't really figure things like this out, haha. But, can I speed the process up a little, or is there anything I can do so I can put my betta in there ASAP?
-if not.. how can I make the current 0.5 gallon aquarium more comfortable and interesting for him, while I wait for the new one to cycle?
-what could possibly be affecting my fish? my best guess is depression or SBD - is this at all accurate? or is he just getting old? :(
-am I doing the right thing by getting him a new tank? I'm so worried that he's going to die. I'd do anything for him, you guys.
Thanks for any help and advice, it's really appreciated. :)
I'm not very experienced with cycling, so I can't really comment there. For the weird swimming, my guess is SBD, but again I'm not too experienced with diseases, so I'm sure someone more experienced can help you there.
I just have to say that a 3.5 gallon is just fine for a betta. (: There are people who say that a betta shouldn't be housed in anything smaller than a 5 gallon, 10 gallon, or 2 gallon. But really, as long as the water stays clean and warm, there really isn't a limit.
It also depends on your betta. Some bettas do fine in 1.5 gallons and prefer them over larger tanks, while others can't stand anything smaller than a 5 gallon, and there are bettas in between who don't seem to mind. Just get to know your betta and see his reactions. Again, as long as the water is clean, warm, and the betta stays healthy physically and mentally, it should be great.
Personally, I like giving my bettas 2.5 gallons, and they really seem to like it.
Also make sure that you give him enough plants and hiding places. (:
wow, okay so that eliminated a lot of my stress! thanks guys, I'm really glad to know that the 3.5 will be enough for him. I'm not too sure what else to do for the SBD, though. The pea didn't do a lot of good, and I tried fasting him a little (two days) and he was the most lethargic fish I'd ever seen. So I don't know..
There are many people who are against the pea method, saying that they are carnivores, not omnivores, but there also many experienced owners and breeders who use it. I'm pretty sure someone can tell you more info on that.
This is from the disease and treatment thread:
Swim Bladder Disease (SBD)/Bloat
•Symptoms: Betta has trouble swimming, maybe he can’t stay upright and can only swim on his side.
•Treatment: This is not a contagious or fatal illness. If it isn’t congenital (aka a condition that he/she has had since birth), then it is caused by over feeding or feeding the wrong foods. Bettas will typically recover after a day or two of Epsom Salt treatments (1-2tsp/gal) and fasting. You can help prevent a reoccurrence by switching to a better pellet food, feeding less and offering a more varied diet. To make it easier for the betta to eat and breath, you can make the water shallower. You can offer him/her frozen daphnia (sold at Petsmart) as daphnia will help him/her pass stool. DO NOT FEED THEM PEAS.
So, I'm pretty sure you premix the epsom salt (non-scented, which I believe you can find at pharmacies and drug stores) with water in a gallon jug, then you can treat him in the 0.5 gallon or 3.5 gallon with 100% water changes each day. I'm not sure about the 100% water changes every day, but if it is right, using the 0.5 gallon as a hospital tank can making the 100% WC easier.
Also, do you have a thermometer? What temperature do you think the water is? Warm water is essential to a betta's health; they need temperatures 78-82*. They need a heater. If money's tight, I suggest this heater: http://www.amazon.com/Elite-Submersi...1897674&sr=8-1
I have two, and they work great, and they're only 10 bucks!
I realize that Bettas are carnivores and peas aren't a good food for them or anything, but I read somewhere that since it's mostly indigestible to bettas, it helps clear out their stomach and reduce the bloating? And that's exactly what it did for me, so I found it relatively useful. I'll definitely look into some epsom salt though, and the frozen daphnia sounds good too. I bought him a new kind of food (pellets, not flakes) so hopefully that will be better too.
thanks again :)
I personally do not recommend peas, as it isn't very good for bettas - even if it does work to a point. All I ever recommend for a bloated betta, is a day of fasting, and some epsom salt.. epsom salt clears out the betta And good choice on pellets - flakes can cause bloating more, as well as is one of the leading foods of causing SBD.
It's usually just 1 tsp Epsom salt per gallon of water,for more severe cases like SBD it can be done up to 3 tsp per gallon. I'd do a low dose if you can, first. dissolve the salt first hand
It looks like you have some good advice on the swimming issue- 1 tsp per gallon, dissolved Epsom salt, daily 100% water changes- use a gallon water jug to mix up the salt, water and conditioner and use his .5 tank for now. You should see an improvement in 5-7 days.
Your 3.5 will set up a nitrogen cycle, but it's not going to cycle in the sense you are thinking of, since there is limited surface space, it won't be able to hold a steady cycle, along with the water changes that must be made in the smaller tanks. The rocks will help set up the beneficial bacteria though- so you will have that.
In a 3.5 gallon, filtered with live plants I suggest doing weekly 25-40% water changes, with water conditioner- monthly siphoning/vacuuming of the gravel. You don't want to do weekly as the plants themselves will use waste and uneaten food as food themselves.. go ahead and feed flakes from time to time, and if some hit the bottom, don't worry about them- just don't let it get excessive.
Peas are fine to use.. but on a limited basis. They shouldn't be part of their regular diet, or used too often. But for short them, they do work and are safe to use.
The reasoning behind not wanting to feed them on a regular basis is that bettas normally get their roughage from the stomachs of their prey- or in our bettas cases, from the processed food. They don't get the same nutrition from the peas as we do- it's pretty much just empty calories for them. So long term, there is no good from it, but short term treatment isn't going to harm him.
Peas did originate to be for goldfish who are constipated, but they work on bettas. Just not a preferred solution by many, including myself, as I rather go the more natural for them route of daphnia. But daphnia can be difficult to find, and peas are more available.
Okay, so I feel a lot better about all this. Thanks for all the advice! I'll be picking up some epsom salt later today, so I'll start the water changes then. I just hope it won't stress him out too much. Should I move him to the new tank after a week of epsom salt treatment/when he gets better?
Thanks for the heater link, audjree. I'll definitely look into that, I do realize that heaters are important. All of the ones in nearby pet stores are $20 and up, so it's good to know there are cheaper options available.
I realize peas don't offer much nutrition for bettas, if any at all! I only used a quarter of a pea, just once. I guess that when I saw my fish with a bloated belly, I just got so scared that I took the first treatment I found and tried it. I won't be doing that again, now that I know about epsom salt :)